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British drivers not prepared for winter weather

Tue, 03 Dec 2013

Drivers in the UK are not prepared for winter weather, despite many warnings of approaching cold conditions on the run up to Christmas.

A study commissioned by AXA insurance found only 6% of motorists will use winter tyres and less than a third (31%) will carry extra supplies, such as a shovel or tow rope.

MSN Cars Winter Motoring Guide
Find out how much a used 4x4 costs on Auto Trader

This is despite drivers spending an average of two days in isolation during 2012 due to snow, ice, rain and flooding over winter.

How does winter weather affect UK motorists?

On top of this, 34% of drivers missed work, while another 31% were cut off from family and friends.

Preparation for harsh conditions should be taken seriously

There are serious implications as a result of being underprepared for wintery weather, too – a staggeringly high one in 10 drivers were unable to access medical services, such as GPs and hospitals, potentially putting their health at risk.

To bring home the possible pitfalls of driving in winter, AXA and weather forecasting agency are issuing reminders to drivers in the UK that preparation for harsh conditions should be taken seriously.

Modern vehicles may now be extremely reliable, but that doesn’t stop unforeseen occurrences such as accidents or freak blizzards affecting your journey.

How can preparing your car for winter improve safety?

Head of motor claims at AXA, Maxine Tighe, highlights:

"Winter weather consistently causes serious problems in the UK, but our research shows that drivers are still being complacent.

"Winter has a massive impact on road safety, and it’s not just snow that causes problems, ice and fog also make the roads more dangerous. Using winter tyres makes driving safer, as they can improve stopping distances by up to 10% in wet and icy weather and up to 20% in snow.

"Drivers who prepare for winter will find it easier to travel in the cold and might just find that a little forward thinking – such as keeping a blanket and a phone charger in the car – could turn out to be a lifesaver."

Road safety groups strongly advise that motorists switch to winter rubber when the thermometer dips below 7 degrees Celcius, so with temperatures steadily dropping, winter tyres are now coming into their own.

Why is it important to keep my car in good condition during winter?

According to the survey results, 75% of drivers in the North East are most likely to be prepared for winter – possibly due regular harsh conditions that area of the country receives in winter – compared to only half of motorists in the South East.

Extra research conducted by oil company Mobil 1 also highlights that not only are drivers ignoring weather warnings, they’re failing to perform basic maintenance tasks on their car.

A massive 66% of vehicle owners admitted their car’s oil hadn’t been changed within the last year, while 15% of drivers said they will be trying to cut back on car maintenance and servicing.

Keeping a car in good working order can reduce the chances of having a breakdown, in turn meaning you are less likely to be stranded by the side of the road in poor weather.

For more information on driving in winter, take a look at the MSN Cars Winter Motoring Guide here.

On Bing: see pictures of winter drivingFind out how much a used 4x4 costs on Auto TraderMSN Cars Winter Motoring GuideThe best snow cars on a budgetPreparing your car for winterWinter tyres - do you need them?How to drive in snow

By Sean Carson, contributor, MSN Cars